Humanitarian aid to a Middle East in crisis

Authored by: Roger Hearn

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Security

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138749894
eBook ISBN: 9781315180113
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores how humanitarian responses interact with the broader security context of the Middle East and how some of the notable challenges faced by the aid industry play out within this increasingly turbulent region. The flawed humanitarian response to Syria is the primary focus. The Syrian regime, responsible for much of the humanitarian catastrophe in the country, has been able to assume the role of gatekeeper to the official aid response. This, among other things, has seen a disproportionate flow of official international aid into government-controlled areas at the same time as a restriction of assistance to opposition areas, including those besieged by the regime via military means. Ultimately the flaws experienced in the Syrian response pose serious questions regarding the future relevance and legitimacy of emergency aid within a region with a growing propensity for internal conflict. From this analysis reflections are made regarding the suitability of the current aid architecture to respond to a region potentially facing decades of instability. The chapter concludes with recommendations for reforms required within the sector.

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